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Bannock County Jail eyes expansion amid overcrowding

Some inmates sleep on cots on the floor and most days, the Bannock County Jail’s 264 beds are at capacity, said Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen.

Nielsen said overcrowding at the jail has become a major concern in recent years, and to combat the problem, he wants to expand the jail to accommodate another 100 to 150 beds.

“As a sheriff, I don’t have the option of putting a ‘no vacancy’ sign up,” said Nielsen.

Wednesday morning, Bannock County Commissioners gave the Sheriff’s Office approval to spend up to $25,000 on a consultant to draft jail expansion plans.

Nielsen plans to meet with the consultant in the next two weeks and hopes to have plans finalized in the next year.

“If we don’t start something now, we’re gonna be that far away from when we get critical,” said Nielsen.

It’s not just the sheer number of inmates the jail houses. Since it opened in 1993, Nielsen said certain inmate populations have soared.

“Obviously you’re not going to put male and female together, but you’re also not going to put felony and misdemeanor together or serious felony,” said Nielsen.

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